Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sam's Blog - Paid Coaching - July 31

Sam’s Blog will be a weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Director of Coaching Education for US Youth Soccer.

As we continue to grow and evolve as a soccer nation the professionalism of our coaches must leap forward. A growing number of people are making a part time or full time living at coaching youth soccer. This is fine as the number of kids playing the game increases we need to provide for their development within the game. Yet the standards accepted by the soccer public for the paid coaches are too low.

Parents who enroll their child in a soccer club should expect that the coaches have some qualification to coach. This is must be more than simply having played the game. The coaches must have formal coaching certification. They should be required by the club’s board of directors to have been educated in child development. Indeed for the paid coaches more than the desire to coach must be expected of them. This all goes back to the question of whose coaching our kids that I brought up in a previous blog entry. Now I want to address the professional behavior of these coaches.

One issue of professional behavior is the respect and communication between the coaches. Far too often coaches hear rumors about what some other coach has done at another club. Rather than picking up the phone and giving that coach a call as a professional courtesy the rumor is accepted at face value. The reaction frequently is to believe the rumor and a knee jerk reaction takes place. This usually results in a tit-for-tat sequence of exchanges between the two coaches or even the two clubs. This is no ones interest and only hurts the reputation of the club. Even worse is the black eye given to our sport. And worst of all is when the players are caught in the middle. The adults involved in youth soccer are meant to set the proper examples of not only good sporting behavior, but also adult behavior. We, especially the coaches, are role models to the players. It matters not if a coach accepts or denies this truth; it is a truth!

We teach the players to respect the game and to respect the opponents. So the coaches must live up to their own expectations. Respect for others in the game doesn’t stop at the technical area. Coaches must work together, regardless of the organization for which they work, to further the game in our country. The good health of soccer depends greatly upon the civil communication among the adults leading the game. So come on coaches pick up the phone and talk to your colleagues!


Brian said...

"They should be required by the club’s board of directors to have been educated in child development."

As a (licensed) coach and board member of a small club, we have a hard enough time to get volunteer coaches as it is, without requiring some college degree or whatnot in child development.

If this is to be 'required,' then it MUST be integrated into the coaching licensing courses. Otherwise, you will emasculate organized youth soccer, which I'm sure is not your intention.

There are other clubs in our area which pay their coaches, however in order to pay these coaches, the fees charged are many times higher what my club charges.

With the higher fees comes higher expectations on the part of parents on the priority of winning trophies and getting looked at college scouts, two issues which have been touched on here before.

I'd love to get paid. I consider myself a decent coach and I'm always trying to improve. But I don't want to get paid if it would end up tripling or more the fees charged and thus excluding a good chunk of kids from participating in a great sport.

Brian said...

In fact, I think paid coaching discourages the sort of collegiality you speak of. Why? Because with salary comes expectations and increased focus on results. I've coached against both volunteer and paid coaches. The paid ones tend to be much more intense and stand offish.

I always try to remember that we are all part of youth soccer. It is all our dream to have one of our players make the national team. But paid coaches are more focused on the short term because they need to satisfy their customers in order to justify their salary.

Anonymous said...


The National Youth License covers the child development aspects. And short of that for volunteer rec coaches there these aspects are covered in the various youth module certificates.

I agree that paid coaching only makes the issue worse with parents wanting to see results. As a coach, I believe we have not only the ability, but the responsibility to educate our parents as to what successful results are. If the topic is never approached with parents they will always measure it by win/loss. As a coach every season we have the opportunity to set the framework for what we believe success is prior to and during the season. I had a team go 0-8 this past season. Every parent of a player on the squad would tell you that we had a successful season, and that the boys made tremendous advances. Every one of those boys is back to play again. Looking only at the results it is hard to understand how any of the parents can say we had a successful season. A coaches job isn't just to teach the kids.

Sam Snow said...

All very good points Brian. The group I had in mind were indeed the paid coaches, especially the paid club directors of coaching. As for the volunteer coaches the expectations of formal training will differ. In the state youth modules and the National Youth License some components of child development, as pertains to sports participation, are presented.
Now can paid coaches be collegial in their interactions with one another? Why not? Many college and professional team coaches do just that every day.

Anonymous said...

No one is talking about a college degree in child development. Child development is covered in coaching courses, especially the USSF National Youth License and NSCAA National Youth Diploma, but also in the F license and State Diploma to a lesser degree.

Anonymous said...

I think you all would get a kick out of these comments on a youth sports issue. Notice how there are very few comments in support of?? over 100 posts.